NLEX, Ginebra hope to avoid twice-to-beat disadvantage in quarters

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 18 2018 06:50 AM

Both NLEX and Ginebra are looking to maintain their places in the league standings. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines – Tim Cone and Yeng Guiao are being realistic about their respective teams' chances as they chase playoff spots in the 2017-18 PBA Philippine Cup.

Barangay Ginebra and NLEX are currently tied for fifth and sixth in the league standings, with identical 5-4 win-loss records. As it stands, they are in line to compete in a best-of-three series in the quarterfinals.

Both coaches are hoping that they can maintain their standing as they enter the final stretch of the elimination round.

"We have two games left," said Guiao, whose Road Warriors outlasted Alaska, 96-89, last Sunday. "I guess we'll just try to get into a spot where we make the next round, and we're not playing a team with a twice-to-beat advantage."

The way the All-Filipino Cup is set up, the top two seeds will own twice-to-beat bonuses in the quarterfinals against the No. 7 and the No. 8 seeds. The four teams in the middle, meanwhile, battle in a best-of-three series.

Guiao is hopeful that the Road Warriors – who will end the eliminations with games against Blackwater and TNT – will stay in the middle of the pack instead of falling behind to the seventh or eighth spots. At this point, the coach is no longer entertaining thoughts of competing for one of the top two seeds.

"Yun lang ang pwedeng maging goal namin ngayon with two games left – make the quarters, and try to get to at least sixth place," he said.

This is a sentiment shared by Cone, after he guided the Gin Kings to a crucial 93-78 victory over TNT KaTropa, also last Sunday.

"We have quotient over Magnolia and San Miguel," said Cone, referring to the top two teams in the league. "Which is funny, because we don't have quotient over everybody else, but we have quotient over those two teams."

"But you don't see those teams dropping. They're gonna be there at the Top 2 or 3," he added.

Instead of eyeing a spot in the Top 2, the Gin Kings will simply focus on the Top 6, said Cone.

"Anything beyond that is going to be a bonus," said the multi-titled head coach. "With the way we started the conference, we lost four out of five games during the middle part. Anything we can get, beyond No. 6, is just gravy at this point."

Like the Road Warriors, the Gin Kings also have two games left in their schedule – against Meralco and Rain or Shine. The Bolts are currently in 11th place with a 2-6 slate, but the Elasto Painters are half-a-game ahead of Ginebra with a 5-3 slate.

Cone anticipates nothing less than a battle when they face off against both Meralco and Rain or Shine.

"They (Meralco) are struggling like we've been struggling, but everybody knows how capable they are, how well coached they are," he noted. "Then we have Rain or Shine, which is really playing well."

"It's been a tough conference for us, but hopefully we're smoothing things out, and hopefully we can make a run in the end," he added.

NLEX plays Blackwater on Sunday at the Philippine Arena, and Ginebra plays Meralco on the same day at the same Bulacan venue.

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